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What They’re Saying: Breakthrough in Negotiations of the WTO Information Technology Agreement

“Last night, we reached a breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to expand the Information Technology Agreement. This is a WTO agreement that eliminates tariffs on high-tech products among 54 economies, including the U.S. and China… This is encouraging news not just for the U.S.-China trade relationship, it shows that the U.S. and China work together to both advance our bilateral economic agenda, but also to support the multilateral trading system.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

Following the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, President Obama and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced a major breakthrough in negotiations with China to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA will eliminate tariffs on information technology products, and the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China will allow for the resumption and swift conclusion of negotiations for the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years. A successful ITA expansion would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets without the imposition of burdensome tariffs, and would support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs. To learn more about how the ITA will support economic growth at home and abroad, please click here.

Below are reactions to the announcement:

  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Finance Committee Chairman: “The original Information Technology Agreement helped grow companies big and small in Oregon by eliminating overseas tariffs on high-tech products almost two decades ago,” Wyden said. "Today's news of an agreement with China will pave the way for a successful ITA expansion deal, which means more good-paying jobs by opening global markets to Oregon manufacturers and exporters of advanced semiconductors, high tech medical equipment and other products.” [11/11/2014]
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee: “After more than a year of stalled negotiations, the Administration’s progress with China to zero-out tariffs on information technology products, like medical devices, is welcome news. Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement would be a big win for American manufacturers, including many in my home state of Utah, who would then be able to increase their global footprint on cutting-edge technologies. Given the recent progress achieved on international trade policy at APEC, it is imperative the President now work with Congress in a bipartisan way to help pass Trade Promotion Authority. Renewal of this job-creating initiative will empower our nation to negotiate a high-quality Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will grow the economy, benefit the American people and achieve the goals of Congress.” [11/11/2014]
  • Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): “Expanding the agreement to include ‘new technologies is critical not just for manufacturers of this equipment but for all the manufacturers that consume these technologies to make them more productive and globally competitive. The NAM applauds the administration's leadership and persistence in moving these negotiations forward and looks forward to the conclusion and implementation of an expanded ITA as quickly as possible’.” [11/11/2014]
  • Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “With economic growth disappointing in many countries, news of a breakthrough in the ITA negotiations is more than welcome. The ITA has been one of the most successful trade pacts in history, spurring growth and innovation across a host of cutting-edge industries. With so many new products created since the ITA was concluded two decades ago, expanding the agreement’s coverage is imperative. With trade in tech goods surpassing $4 trillion annually, the commercial significance of these negotiations is obvious. As stated in our goals coming into Beijing, a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year. We congratulate the U.S. and Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.”  [11/10/2014]
  • Gregory Gilligan, Chairman, American Chamber of Commerce in China: “This latest breakthrough – combined with the deal announced the previous day on extending the validity of visas for businesspeople, students and tourists – demonstrates how cooperation can create long-term benefits to the business interests of both countries.” [11/11/2014]
  • John Frisbie: President, U.S.-China Business Council: “Making a positive breakthrough on the ITA this week sets the tone for more ambitious agreements that are in discussion.” [11/11/2014]
  • Bruce Mehlman, Executive Director, Technology CEO Council (TCC): “This agreement represents a major breakthrough in global trade for the high tech sector. The information technology sector has changed dramatically in the 17 years since the ITA first went into effect. By updating the product scope and eliminating tariffs on more than 200 new products, a new and expanded ITA will support thousands of new manufacturing and technology jobs here in the U.S. and infuse billions of dollars in revenue to the global economy. We applaud the persistent efforts of President Obama and his Administration, including U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, as well as the Departments of Treasury and Commerce to move this agreement forward and keep ITA expansion as a top economic priority. We look forward to the swift completion of the final ITA agreement as soon as possible.”  [11/11/2014]
  • Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA): “It took hard work, and compromise on all sides, but today's breakthrough announcement from Beijing on the ITA marks a major path forward. President Obama, Ambassadors Froman and Punke, and their team at USTR have worked tirelessly over the past week to find a way forward. We commend them, Chinese hosts of APEC and leadership in Beijing for reaching a mutually acceptable path forward to continuing, and swiftly concluding, ITA discussions in Geneva. Today's breakthrough offers not only a strong deliverable for APEC leaders, but also a chance to advance the success of the World Trade Organization itself." [11/11/2014]
  • Gregg Melinson, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Hewlett Packard (HP): "The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is an extremely significant trade pact for the high-tech sector, and we applaud the announcement of a deal which will expand product coverage and eliminate burdensome tariffs. This move will support and grow jobs throughout our industry, and we applaud the USTR and President Obama for driving this important trade expansion in Beijing this week." [11/11/2014]
  • Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft: “Microsoft welcomes the news from the APEC Leader’s meeting on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).  This is a significant and important development for China and the United States.  Microsoft will continue to work in support of ITA expansion as final negotiations are concluded in Geneva.” [11/11/2014]
  • Brian Toohey, President and CEO, The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA): "The ITA has played a central role in helping the U.S. semiconductor industry drive innovation, create jobs, lower consumer prices and connect communities throughout the world. Today's agreement between the U.S. and China to expand the ITA is a hard-fought victory for the U.S. semiconductor industry and a big win for the U.S. economy and consumers around the world. We look forward to all ITA countries finalizing a deal as soon as possible."[11/11/2014]
  • Rich Templeton, Chairman, President, and CEO, Texas Instruments (TI): “Lowering barriers to trade advances innovation and growth for our companies but more importantly can expand the global economy. We see this as a true win-win for the participating countries and a needed boost for rules-based trade under the WTO. President Obama and Ambassador Froman deserve a great deal of credit for achieving this important breakthrough.” [11/11/2014]
  • Jeff Campbell, CISCO: “The agreement between the United States and China to expand the scope of the Information Technology Agreement represents a major breakthrough in the global trade agenda. This agreement is expected to eliminate duties on over 200 information and communications technology (ICT) product categories, representing approximately $1 trillion in annual global ICT sales. Now that the U.S. and China have reached agreement, we hope negotiators will resume talks early next month at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to expand the bilateral agreement to include more nations.  In doing so, this will help expand access to affordable technology, which will help improve standards of living and economic development around the world.”  [11/11/2014]
  • Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA): “MPAA commends the United States and China for reaching a crucial agreement on expanded product coverage in the negotiations to update the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Once concluded, this agreement will encourage the growth of the U.S. and global motion picture industries by eliminating costly tariffs -- some as high as 30% -- on a wide range of digital and optical media and storage devices used in worldwide motion picture production, editing, distribution, and exhibition. MPAA is grateful for the hard work and leadership of President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the USTR team, who have worked tirelessly to narrow the differences with China to reach an understanding which will lead to a commercially significant agreement. MPAA also applauds China for contributing to the resumption of negotiations. We encourage all ITA participants to seize the momentum created by this agreement to resume and rapidly conclude the negotiations." [11/11/2014]
  • Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm: “I am very pleased that dialogue between the United States and China has resulted in a breakthrough understanding that will give a much needed boost to negotiations to expand the product coverage of the WTO Information Technology Agreement. Modernizing the list of products that will receive duty-free treatment under an expanded ITA will generate significant benefits for the information technology industries and consumers globally. In particular, the inclusion in the ITA product landscape of MCO semiconductors will catalyze new innovations, investment, jobs, global trade flows and consumer choice. Qualcomm encourages all WTO members to build upon this momentum and conclude ITA expansion negotiations at the earliest opportunity this year. I applaud United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, and their teams, for their hard work and leadership.” [11/11/2014]
  • Intel: “We applaud the work that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has done at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to support America’s technology industry. The breakthrough bilateral agreement between the United States and China to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) enables the swift conclusion of a deal at the WTO that will cut tariffs on an estimated $1 trillion in annual global sales of information and communications  technology (ICT) products.  An expanded ITA will be a major win for the global information economy and ICT consumers around the world.  Fair and open trade creates job growth, increases innovation and strengthens the global economy.” [11/11/2014]
  • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA): “The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech communications networks, today commended the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their leadership in breaking the impasse to resume the negotiations to expand the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA)… The breakthrough to resume the negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement would not have been possible without the tremendous amount of hard work by the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over the past year. It has been 17 years since the original ITA was concluded, and TIA is very pleased to see that the ITA expansion negotiations are back on track.” [11/11/2014]
  • Advances Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed): "AdvaMed strongly supports expansion of the ITA and we are pleased to see the agreement reached by the leadership of China and the US.  We hope that this will lead to continuation of a robust negotiation and swift passage of an expanded agreement. The ITA has the potential to reduce tariffs for several innovative medical technologies, benefitting manufacturers in the US, China and other countries.  Even more importantly, the agreement will lower healthcare costs and increase patient access to life-saving and life-enhancing technologies." [11/11/2014]
  • BSA / The Software Alliance: " ‘Updating the ITA to better account for these advances will remove tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of additional goods,’ BSA CEO Victoria Espinel said by email in response to a query.”
    Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology & Innovation Foundation: "Among the likely winners would be U.S. makers of semiconductors, medical products such as MRI and CT machines, and software and video game developers, said Stephen Ezell, senior analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation think tank. ‘It’s a win-win trade agreement that will benefit information and communications technology manufacturers and services firms across the Americas, Europe, and Asia, while also benefiting all consumers globally and raising global GDP by as much as $190 billion annually,’ he said by email.”  
    Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
  • Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association: “The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, an industry body whose 280 members include Sony Corp. , Panasonic Corp. , Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. , welcomed the deal. “We were waiting for this since the discussion between China and the U.S. stopped last November,” the group said. ‘If the discussion reopens in Geneva and the tariff elimination is expanded, it would be positive for the JEITA and Japan’s IT and electronics industry.’”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC): “‘This is particularly important for economies without credit cards,’ said John Neuffer, senior vice president for global policy at the Information Technology Industry Council in Washington. ‘They can go to the local kiosk and buy cards’ that let them download software.”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • Micron: “Mark Durcan, Micron’s chief executive, said the new agreement ‘will certainly benefit all of us who conduct business and manufacture on a global basis, and we commend all the parties involved in reaching this milestone.’”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The Chamber has worked over the past two years to build support for an ambitious expansion of the ITA. We’ve traveled to Geneva repeatedly to meet with negotiators from dozens of countries, and we’ve raised it as an issue in missions to foreign capitals (especially Beijing, as Chinese officials had been reluctant to eliminate many tariffs). The Chamber was one of 82 top business groups from dozens of developed and developing countries that in September issued a statement calling for action…The Chamber has said repeatedly that a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year, and so it is. It’s also a big win for the U.S.-China relationship, with benefits for consumers and industries worldwide. We congratulate U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke, as well as the Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.” 
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade Pact to Slash Taxes on $1 Trillion in Goods [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology Industry Council (ITI): “ITI applauds the sustained effort by President Obama and his team at USTR for their unrelenting efforts to achieve this deal and break the logjam…With this bilateral deal to expand product scope, a number of important goods will now be included in the final round of talks, such as next-generation semiconductors called MCOs, a range of medical equipment, a wide array of sophisticated measuring devices, and point-of-sale cards to download software and games. These additional product lines will add significant commercial value to the overall agreement.”
    Information Technology Industry Council: Breakthrough Achieved on Information Technology Agreement: Next Stop, Geneva [11/11/2014]